Romans 16:17 – “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” NASU
Philippians 3:17 – “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” NASU
Paul gives us two groups of people to MARK or IDENTIFY and definitive directions regarding each group. One is an enemy of the Local Church and the other is a Powerful Witness for the LORD in the Local Community. Both are to be noted and marked.
The first group to MARK are those “that cause division” and the second group are those who ‘set the right example’. We are to MARK both groups. We are to ‘avoid’ the first group but ‘cling to, immolate, and copy’ the second. The devil wants to infiltrate the local church with the first group and diminish the influence of the second. He does everything he can to create division in the church. Sadly, he has been somewhat effective in many churches across America today and rendered them powerless forms but not substance and lasting impact on the community. I wish it were not so, but in some churches so divided by the devil there is no life, vision, spirit, power, or tears and the devil has backed them into a corner where they are holding the fort but not impacting their community. That is unfortunate and incredibly sad. They fuss and fume and cannot have a business meeting without war and no board meeting is devoid of conflict.
I personally refuse to engage in a brawl in the church. The work of God is too important and time is too valuable to waste it on what is often pettiness. There are too many souls perishing and this is no time for the Body of Christ to engage in childishness and act petulant throwing temper tantrums and pouting if we don’t get our way. If we are going to fulfill God’s Purpose and Plan for the local church we must identify the division, call it what it is, and reject it completely. The devil cannot defeat the church from without, he can only defeat us from the inside. Those on the outside can label us however they please, call us anything they desire, spin fabrications about us, assignation of our character, and attempt to shut us down physically but they will never truly be successful UNLESS we allow ‘division’ to rule in our midst. If we do, we step outside the protective covering of the LORD and stand on the devil’s turf and he will make mincemeat of us if we do. That is not God’s Plan, Purpose, or Promise and we must not settle for less than His best.
The only thing that can destroy any local church is “the people” in that church. The devil can only defeat the local church from the inside but he can never win fighting from the outside. In order for the devil to hinder the progress of the local church, he must get in the middle of the church and divide it. Have you ever seen a local congregation where there was a division on the board, among the elders, or people in the pews who will not speak to each other? Disunity and disharmony run rampant. Then and only then can the devil hinder the church local.
We are engaged in a WAR, a Spiritual War and the first thing that we must seek to do is learn all we can about our enemy. That was one of the areas in which we were often bogged down in Vietnam. President Johnson often lamented that his intelligence reports were terribly inaccurate. You have to know all you can about an enemy to fight that enemy effectively. In WW II we had spies even one of Hitler’s inner circle was forwarding notes of Hitler’s meetings with his generals to the Allied Commanders and often we knew every move he planned. We got information on the U-2 rocket that Germany was developing. Had Germany perfected that rocket or the jet engine earlier there is a real possibility they could have won the war. They had superior technology when the war broke out, superior forces and yet we won the war. HOW? We knew more about them than they knew about us and we had prayer backing our forces.
We need to know our enemy and we must never forget this enemy HATES US and his prime tactic is ‘divide and conquer’. I want to look more closely at the enemy of which I speak and will need another devotional to accomplish that task or objective. So, I pause here and wait until the ‘morrow to delve a little deeper into God’s Eternal Love and expose the devil and his strategies.
God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!